Episcopal senior Douglas Robbins knows what it is like to make the transition to a new school. Now, after six successful years on campus he has advice for new students to help them become a part of the Episcopal community with ease. Read more from Douglas below.
Dear new friends--
Congratulations on getting your first week under your belt at the E. You’ve met all your teachers, met some new people, and after signing the Honor Code, you are officially a Knight. By this point, you should start to get a better feel for what it is going to be like on campus from here on out. Now I know that just because you have had one week down, you are by no means an expert and I also know that transitioning in can take some time. As someone who had his last first day of high school last week (I know, it still hasn’t set in) after six years at this school, I have some tips to help you navigate that will take you beyond the first week.
#2 Don’t be afraid to try new things
Part of what makes Episcopal so special is all of the diverse extracurricular options that are available. As you walk around campus, you will see this universal enthusiasm that seems to have touched all of the students and everything that they do. In the spirit of transitioning into the community, allow yourself to get swept away by the excitement of trying out some extracurriculars that you may not have had the chance to do elsewhere. Maybe that means joining the Cross Country team, or auditioning for the play, dabbling in slam poetry or crafting with the Pinterest Club. Don’t limit yourself to just one activity, take advantage of being able to try them all and see what sticks. You may not end up loving everything that you try, but don’t sweat it because no one makes you do something you aren’t into. But I promise, that something will stick and it may be the most unlikely thing. Before I came to Episcopal, I never would have dreamed of being on a stage in a play and I didn’t even know what the Student Vestry was, but by trying new things, I felt that passion and made some of my best friends.
Douglas Robins is a senior in his sixth year at Episcopal. He is an engaged member of the Episcopal community as a Writing Fellow, Student Vestry member, President of the National Honors Society and a part of the Honors Thesis program. Douglas also is an active member of the performing arts community and enjoys the flexibility of being able to explore his academic interests and his diverse extracurricular interests all in one school day.
With the snip of the scissors and a roar from the crowd, a longtime dream was realized with the opening of the new Academic Commons on August 10th. The Academic Commons is the first new academic building on Episcopal’s campus in more than a decade and now serves as the hub of Upper School math and science. The 27,000 square foot building features 17 classrooms, lab and project space, an engineering and robotics suite and an entrepreneurial studies center. In addition, the entrance of the facility showcases a courtyard-size periodic table.
“This building is part of the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge dream,” said Head of School Hugh McIntosh. He added that the dream is to provide students with a nationally competitive education led by great teachers in modern facilities, preparing them to be productive, adult citizens of Baton Rouge.
Recently, construction has been a sign of progress on Episcopal’s campus with the ongoing Spirit • Mind • Body Capital Campaign. Last fall, the newly renovated Lewis Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd was completed. School officials broke ground on the Academic Commons in May 2017 with the project remaining on track for the August 2018 opening. With the completion of the Academic Commons, Foster Hall will be converted into a Lower and Middle School innovative learning center. Attention now shifts to the next phase of construction with work on the new athletic field house underway. School officials and Lead Donors Todd ʼ90 and Gwen ʼ88 Graves broke ground on the field house in May and expect the project to be complete by the end of the school year.
“You are going to unlock wonders within these walls!” said Spirit • Mind • Body Campaign Co-Chair and Episcopal Board Member Sean Reilly ʼ79, addressing students at the Academic Commons ribbon cutting. Jennifer and Sean Reilly are Lead Donors for the Academic Commons. Sean Reilly and Todd Graves are Capital Campaign Co-Chairs. Also in attendance was Katheryn Flournoy, Board Chair and Campaign Cabinet Member. Before the ribbon was officially cut, the Academic Commons was blessed by the Rt. Rev’d Morris K. Thompson, Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. The Academic Commons was designed by Bobby Boudreaux and Crump Wilson Architects, and the general contractor was Cangelosi Ward General Contractors L.L.C.
A walk through the Academic Commons begins by strolling across the periodic table plaza in the courtyard. Upon entering the building, students and visitors will quickly notice the modern and sleek feel. Classroom spaces are designed to adjust to meet the needs of the students based on the current lesson. To foster collaboration and cooperation, furniture can be rearranged and seats can be easily moved. The glass-enclosed NuVu Episcopal Design Studio contains all of the equipment and supplies students need to create innovative solutions to everyday challenges. The multi-level facility also includes space for visiting lecturers and instructors.
August 10th was certainly not your average start to a new school year. Students returned to a facility, campus, and community that is sure to inspire them to achieve their dreams as the leaders of tomorrow. What a way to begin the 2018/2019 school year!
McMains Children’s Developmental Center studio - 10 students, 5 projects
Flood/Safer Sports studio – 12 students, 9 sports and 6 flood
Tactile Objects studio - 8 students, 4 projects
New Frequencies studio - 5 students, 3 projects
Middle School BattleBots - 12 students, 5 projects
The first year NuVu Design Studio tally is impressive. Students have worked on innovative solutions to reduce the risk of injury associated with fishing, running and golfing. They have developed objects, such as portable toy storage and exercise equipment, to assist those displaced by a natural disaster. They have also created a way for students with limited mobility to throw a ball, sail a boat and participate in daily activities. Along the way, the journey has introduced them to field experts and local professionals. Through trial and error they have had to refine and reimagine original concepts. They have made mistakes and learned from them and even celebrated when the concept worked as planned. They’ve learned to collaborate and cooperate in order to make their dreams a reality. After an exciting fall semester, the momentum continued on into the spring with the recent spring studio showcase.
Spring: A Sensory Experience
Can you imagine generating sound with color, or even fish? This semester’s Design Studio students did just that and more. Students focused the latter portion of the school year on projects involving tactile objects and new frequencies. Like the fall showcase, the projects were innovative and the students were engaged.
“This was different from any other class I’ve taken,” said Davis Singletary. Singletary and Stephen Barker created Sound Pipes, a device that uses color to produce a range of sounds commonly found in nature. “This project was designed to engage the users’ imagination through the use of sound,” wrote Barker in his project brief. Aimed at elementary school children, Sound Pipes allows the user to drop balls of varying color into a PVC pipe outfitted with a color sensor to detect the color. Once detected, an Arduino board and sound software are used to assign the color a corresponding sound inspired by nature. The finished product is easy to use and fun, making it a perfect concept for little hands.
From the beginning, Bailey McLaughlin knew he wanted to incorporate a live animal into his project. That creature ultimately ended up being a fish. Using laser sensors, an Arduino board and sound software, McLaughlin’s Fish Frequencies created a method for making music based on the movement of fish. The prototype, which generates interesting notes when the fish activate the laser, was well received by his classmates, Design Studio coaches and teachers.
The team of Cruz Crawford and Luke Foster produced sound by going big. The two used surgical tubing stretched between outdoor columns to create a large-scale guitar. “This project was built for anyone to enjoy, regardless of whether you are a musician or not. If you like music and like to generate sound by the touch of your fingers put your mind to it and who knows what you can make,” wrote Foster in the project’s brief. The project, labeled the King of Strings, was successful in creating chord sounds and in delighting the Lower School students who tested it.
Another Design Studio team took on gravity for their spring project. Griffin Dynes and Hootie Freeman wanted to create an experience that would allow users to feel the pull of the force on different planets. Thus, the Gravity Table was born. The project involved numerous iterations. “Cultivating ideas for this project resulted in many different ideas, including a vest to simulate weight change on other planets. The idea eventually morphed into a table which held everyday objects such as, a water-bottle, a pencil and a hammer. One after another, cardboard models were broken and re-designed,” wrote Freeman in the project brief. After much experimentation, the team created a decorative, laser-cut box that demonstrates the weight of a hammer on various planets. The team’s stated goal, which was “to make learning about or educating others on gravity a more hands-on experience” was certainly accomplished.
NuVu Design Studio students have achieved so much in only one school year. Providing such a learning experience right here on campus is a fitting complement to the learning that occurs within the traditional classroom. It is a great example of the innovative and thoughtful opportunities that are purposefully made available to Episcopal students every day.
We can’t wait to see what the 2018/2019 Design Studio students create!
Members of the Episcopal Class of 2018 have lovingly referred to the school as a second home, a family and a place they will never forget. For seven seniors this is especially true as they are members of the school’s inaugural PreK-4 class so many years ago. After years at Episcopal, they are now moving on to their next chapter prepared for new opportunities and new adventures. Congratulations!
Members of the PreK-4 Class of 2005 who are graduating seniors of the Class of 2018:
John Daniel Davis
Russ St. Romain
We asked the students to answer two questions about their Episcopal experience. Read below for what they had to say.
1. Beyond learning the color wheel, the difference between their, they’re, and there, how to find the value of x, perfecting my Spanish accent, finding my voice on stage, that my expertise does not flourish on a volleyball team, mastering kinematics equations, learning how to code, the extraordinary uplifting faculty; beyond embracing my God given talents, Episcopal has taught me to believe in myself.
2. The supportive relationships that I have developed at Episcopal have shaped me to become my best true self. Episcopal’s nurturing spirit has prepared me and will propel me to tackle ambitious challenges, and in my heart, I know that no matter how far life takes me, Episcopal will always be my home.
There isn't much needed to be said about Episcopal, all that can be said can be seen just by spending a day within the community. Episcopal is truly something special and I would not trade my time there for anything else. I have met so many wonderful people and gained friendships I believe will last me a lifetime.
--John Daniel Davis
1. My overall experience has been great at Episcopal. I was able to participate in different academic, athletic, and artistic events in my time here that I have enjoyed. I’ve met some friends here that will be lifelong friends, and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.
2. This community has shaped me into being a better version of myself ever since I got here. Everyone here has pushed me to where I work hard and do the right thing. I am lucky to have gone to this school my entire life because it has prepared me for just about any obstacle in my way.
1. My journey through Episcopal has been a little unorthodox. I went here from pre-k to sixth grade, and I came back for my senior year. There is just something so unique about the welcoming Episcopal community, and I could not miss out on the opportunity to be a part of it again for my last year of high school. I am so glad I found my way back home, and I realized that there really is no place like Episcopal.
2. Episcopal has helped me develop lifelong friendships, while also providing me with an environment that fosters personal growth and learning. The school’s balance of spiritual, social, academic, artistic and athletic life has pushed me to try new things and have new experiences. I come to school every day knowing that I will be challenged to be the best student I can be in and outside of the classroom, which is an amazing feeling to have. Episcopal has also given me opportunities and connections that I would not have had otherwise. I am so grateful for everything that the school has helped me to accomplish, and I would like to thank my friends, teachers, coaches, and everyone at Episcopal who have supported and guided me throughout the years. Even though I am sad that my time here is coming to an end, it gives me a peace of mind knowing that I will always have the Episcopal community to come back to.
1. My overall Episcopal experience has been fun. I have met a lot of awesome people and made memories that I will never forget.
2. This community has given me a lot of opportunities that I would not have had anywhere else. I have learned a lot from the people I have met during my time here.
--Russ St. Romain
In my eyes, and in many other students’, Episcopal has been a home over these past few years. For some, maybe just a mere two years, but for others, it has been an ongoing twelve. Now I reference to our educational institution as a “home” because, in reality, we spend more active, engaged time on the Woodland Ridge campus than at the atypical home where our mail and packages are addressed to. We wake up at the crack of dawn to drive to this home and spend seven tireless hours working, playing, eating, discussing, and innovating. For many students, those seven hours turns to eleven once the time spent running on the field, swimming in the pool, or dancing across the stage is taken into account. At my genuine home, I spend around five to six hours conversing with my family and finishing up homework, which pales in comparison to the lively hours spent at Episcopal.
This community created through time and collaboration is what truly molds and shapes the student body that thrives in our home. Like many things in life, Episcopal is a home that will give you just as much as you put into it. It has personally bestowed me with the gift to unravel what’s right for me through endless experiential opportunity. Starting in seventh grade, I traveled to Dallas with the middle school band to participate in a nationwide concert. Fast forward to freshman year, I spent two weeks in Madrid, Spain with a student my age to immerse myself in a foreign culture and sharpen my linguistic skills. And just this year, I traveled to Boston with our school’s Mock Trial team to participate in a workshop hosted by Harvard University. And while all these off-campus opportunities were great, I’ve arguably participated in even more meaningful experiences on campus. Over the past two, I’ve participated in the Honors Diploma program at our school to study my passions and develop a college-level thesis around a topic I wished to pursue. And this is just my personal story. Every other student in the Episcopal family has their stories too, each equally important, diverse, and developed.
Because of this, and on behalf of the graduating senior class, I’d like to think of our experience at Episcopal as one that was both positive, yet transformative. These past years have prepared us for the next stage of our life by teaching us how to work through collaboration. Our educational journey has allowed us to gradually fall off the beaten path and learn what’s genuinely meaningful to us. Maybe that looked like dabbling our toes in theater and realizing it might have not been a good fit for some of us. Or maybe trying out for the track team on a whim and becoming a state champion. Or maybe signing up for a class that changed our future goals and aspirations. Regardless of what the scenario may have been, Episcopal allowed us to experiment with opportunities that one couldn’t imagine.
And this is why I refer to Episcopal as a home, not a school. Many people fall short to the preconceived notion that a school is where students go to fulfill course requirements, graduate, and escape, almost as if education is supposed to be some “prison-like” agenda schedule. While Episcopal is a home where we complete course requirements, it’s also a home where we get to develop a sense of identity along the way. Rather than trying to shove you down the chapel aisle in a hasty four years, it asks that you stop along the way and question who you are. What do you enjoy? Where do you want to go? Rather than slapping a schedule down on our desks, advisors ask us, “What are you interested in and how are you going to pursue that?” I’d like to think that our curriculum’s mission is to make sure that, when us Seniors walk down that aisle next week, each and every one of us will know who we are a little bit more than when we came in.
So for rising students, take advantage of this home. Take advantage of the endless opportunity that lingers around our school grounds. Reach out to your family members, whether that be a new teacher or a classmate you’ve never talked to, and learn more about them before your time is up. It won’t be long before your time comes when you’re walking down that chapel aisle, and hopefully, just hopefully, you will know yourself a little bit better. With a little more opportunity and with a little more knowledge.
Elliott Kellam is an Episcopal senior. He has been a Writing Center Fellow since his sophomore year. Elliott swims for the school swim team, is an active member of Model United Nations and Mock Trial, and participates in the Honors Diploma Program. He plans to attend Duke University in the fall to study Psychology with a minor in Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
Episcopal athletes and their supporters gathered around the oak on the deck to celebrate members of the Class of 2018 who plan to continue playing sports at the collegiate level. Congratulations to the following Knights.
Caden Dickinson | Rhodes College
Cam Dumas | Loyola New Orleans
Graham Frazier | University of Chicago
Christopher Hatzis | Mississippi College
Football and Track
Kelli Hu | University of Chicago
Kenny Schafer | Oberlin Music Conservatory
John Hayden Wood | Colgate
Community service is such a huge part of my life, and no words could ever truly describe the way it makes me feel or the ways in which it has impacted me over the years. Recently, I was very lucky to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House in recognition of my community service. Honestly, I’m at a loss for the right words. It is truly my passion and it has been ever since I began to volunteer with Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) when I was only 12 years old. It was the summer before seventh grade, and I was the youngest volunteer with YVC; 12 was the absolute minimum age, and I was only allowed to do one project that summer. It completely changed my outlook on life, which at twelve isn’t saying too much, but still, I had found something that I loved, and still do.
There are currently over thirty YVC affiliates spreading across the United States and Canada, including two in Louisiana. Working with YVC entails signing up for different projects that range from counseling kids at camps where they learn about things like safety and history, spending the day with elderly dementia patients, planting community gardens, painting murals, and so much more. In groups of about ten youth volunteers, we go out into the community and focus on making a difference and reflecting on our impact.
with the people who actually make decisions concerning YVC, help them with new ideas and planning, and make my dreams for YVC become a reality. It has been really great also because I’ve held various leadership positions within the Board which has helped me to not only get more of a say, but to really work on my leadership skills and hone those talents that I will possibly need next year in college. Being on YAB has mostly prepared me for this year, though, when I was very fortunate and honored to get chosen to be a member of the International Youth Advisory Board (IYAB) which you apply for in the early spring. Usually only one, possibly two, members from each regional affiliate gets to be a member. This year’s IYAB only has about twenty-eight members, so I was very lucky, and now I get to help make decisions concerning YVC on an international scale, not just in Baton Rouge.
YVC has not only allowed me to do something I love and am passionate about, but it has helped my grow as a person, develop skills that will be useful in college and in my adult life, and has given me so many friendships that I know will last long after the youth of Youth Volunteer Corps has run out. Also thanks to the confidence I have gained from both YAB and IYAB I took more risks and steps at school with my service; I was a Thrive tutor for my freshmen year, and I did organize a small event then, too, but every year since, I have been taking a bigger and bigger step to bring my passion to Episcopal. It’s hard, sometimes, to look around and see all that we are blessed with and believe that we don’t all give back. We are all so privileged and have so much. We are all able-bodied and minded, and there are so many people in the world, in our city, who have so little. It really is our duty to help them in any and every way we can. I truly believe that. Every day, I strive to help as many people as I can, in any way I can. That’s why I’ve loved bringing my passion for service to Episcopal. To see my teachers, friends, and peers getting involved and giving back is so amazing. It makes my love for it grow tenfold.
Overall, I have tried my hardest to do everything I absolutely can as an eighteen year old. I hope that as I get older, I can find a way to dedicate my life even more to service. It truly is my passion. I love it, and it brings me so much joy and happiness. I never feel more fulfilled than when I am helping other people. This award truly was a great surprise and honor to receive, but it has never and will never be about the recognition or awards. The feeling of knowing that I am doing everything I can to help others is the best award I could ever be given.
Kaci Wilson will graduate from Episcopal this May. During her time at the school, she has committed herself to serving others. Recently, she received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her continued volunteer efforts. This fall, Kaci will attend LSU to pursue a degree in psychology. In addition, she plans to serve a term in the Peace Corps.
Standing in front of six hundred students, I was surprised that my legs weren’t shaking. I adjusted the microphone and announced with great enthusiasm, “Welcome to Louisiana Mu Alpha Theta State Convention 2018!” The last syllable was lost in cheers and applause. It was my last State Convention, and as the president, I was determined to make it the best one to give back to the community. Mu Alpha Theta had been inspiring me to discover mathematics and leadership since freshman year.
My freshman year at Episcopal was also my first year in the United States. As an international student, I felt lost. As I was struggling to find my place in the new environment, Mrs. Moroney invited me to my first Mu Alpha Theta tournament at Ben Franklin High School. That Saturday, I woke up at 6:30 in the morning, ready to take a math test. The tournament, however, turned out to be so much fun. I participated in an individual test, a four-person team test, and an interschool test. I enjoyed debating problems with my peers as well as walking up the stage to receive our ribbons after our team name was announced at the award ceremony. I attended more tournaments at St. Paul’s, Catholic, and Baton Rouge High, and prepared myself for my first State Convention. Math had never been so interesting. I started to challenge myself with the involved problems I used to avoid. I found math.
The State Convention is a three- day math event held in late March or early April every year. Mathletes from across Louisiana gather at Crowne Plaza Executive Center Baton Rouge, playing math games and making new friends. At the convention, there are various math games, and I participated in Ciphering. I was given fifteen problems, and I had to solve each of them within two minutes. If I turned in a correct answer during the first minute, I would gain four points. A second-minute answer, however, would only give me one point. The top four players of the top four schools compete against each other at the Math Bowl. I enjoyed trying to process math quickly and being competitive. On Friday night, after doing math all day, we had fun at the dance, the karaoke, and the board games. At the convention, I worked my brain so hard and met so many interesting people that I felt like three days were too short. I found my place.
By the end of my junior year, Mu Alpha Theta had become part of my identity. I wasn’t the smartest kid in math classes and didn’t always place in tournaments. My sponsors and peers never made me feel bad about myself. The passionate, supportive community inspired me to keep working hard. Trying to get more involved, I told Mrs. Sofranko about my plan to run for State President next year. At the Convention, I gave a sincere speech straight out of my heart. However, I almost couldn’t finish it since I was too nervous speaking in front of everyone. People somehow understood what I was saying and rewarded me the loudest applause I’d ever received. I was elected. On March 22nd, 2018, there I was, speaking confidently at the opening ceremony as the State President. The community had been so supportive that I wasn’t even scared of public speaking anymore. I found a brand new me.
Episcopal Mathletes performed well at the Convention. Next year, as more students get involved, our goal is to win Sweepstakes!
Wendy Wang, as an international student from Jinan, China, has been a member of the Episcopal community since her freshman year. As a senior this year, Wendy serves as the president of Louisiana Mu Alpha Theta and an Episcopal Writing Fellow. She will continue her education at Emory University this fall, possibly majoring in Statistics and minoring in Creative Writing.
Congratulations to the 2018 Episcopal National Honor Society Inductees!
The National Honor Society is a nationwide organization which recognizes those high school students who excel in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Juniors and seniors who have maintained at 3.67 GPA in the core classes (foreign language, science, social studies, mathematics, and English) and who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character to a faculty council are selected for membership.